While 2018 may not have been a year of record-breaking growth for consumer tech shops, that doesn’t mean new sales weren’t driven by a variety of product categories. We spoke with The NPD Group to find out which consumer electronics categories grew the most in the US dollar last year compared to 2017.
Some made the list solely because they were a “greenfield” segment that didn’t exist before; nonetheless, it’s crucial to note that all generated at least $250 million in sales last year, according to NPD VP and industry advisor Stephen Baker.
The 2019 TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers Report is available for purchase.
Wireless Charging (No. 1)
Wireless charging pads accounted for the majority of this category’s growth, but don’t anticipate that to continue in the future. According to Baker, the pads are only the beginning of this technology’s possibilities, and it will eventually find its way into practically anything that currently has cables or technology built in.
Intelligent Entry (Doorbells and Locks)
“This is your typical greenfield category,” Baker explained. “Doorbells were not a technological item five years ago. Doorknobs were not a high-tech item. We’re seeing those increase quickly as a result of the general interest in smart homes, but they’re growing even faster because they address security concerns and interface nicely with other smart home components.”
While demand for video doorbells is predicted to slow — consumers normally only require one for their front door, according to Baker — demand for locks is expected to remain strong, as consumers are more likely to buy multiples.
Smart watches, which are created by Apple and other manufacturers, are another greenfield area that is projected to continue to grow.
“We’re really positive on the concept that smart watches will develop beyond what you may think of as just a tech product because of the various chances to use it around things like health and fitness,” Baker said. “Over time, those good uses will outperform getting text messages and directions on your wrist, and they will eliminate the need to pull your phone out of your pocket and even the need for a phone.”
Smart watches’ stable selling prices and servicing control requirements, he added, make them appealing to both OEMs and merchants looking for annuity value. Smart watches, like smartphones and headphones, have an upgrade cycle and a fashion association, with users wanting to replace them for newer styles and more advanced functionality.
Mesh routers are expected to be a one-and-done category on the growth list, but not because of their use. Unlike a smart watch, which you glance at several times throughout the day, a mesh router is often something people put in the back of their houses and don’t think about, according to Baker.
As ASPs fall and cable and Internet service providers are able to provide more items to their customers, retail sales are expected to suffer.
“Of the five items here, I think this would be the most valuable product for most people, but it’s also probably the one they’re least likely to buy,” Baker said, citing customer apprehension about upgrading infrastructure technologies and unfamiliarity with the product.